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"A mighty woman with a torch."

From the time Hitler came to power in the 1930's to the defeat of the Nazis in 1945, over 300,000 Jews emigrated from Germany. Many Americans don't know our own history that in 1939 a ship with over 900 Jewish refugees on it was forced to return to Europe where 254 of the passengers would eventually be killed in the Holocaust. When Germany annexed Austria and began pogroms during 1938, the United States had in place strict quotas on Jewish refugees which fell far short of the actual number seeking refuge. 125,000 applicants lined up for 27,000 visas. Even as reports of mass crimes against humanity reached the US in the 1940's, America imposed a strict limit on immigration due to national security concerns.

We've seen this crisis before. And American isolationism, xenophobia, and anti-immigrant policies were already one of our more shameful pieces of the past. Now it's 2015 and certain members of the Republican Party in the US are talking about rounding up 11 million people and sending them back across our border. Following the attacks on Paris, they're talking about closing our borders to the swarms of Syrian (and other) refugees fleeing beheadings and being conquered by warlords and fanatics using the peaceful religion of Islam to mask their thirst for oppressing others. One person running for President of the United States even said we should only let Christians in. A horribly un-Christian thing to say in a time of global suffering.

One of the more frequent cries I've heard from Americans following the Paris attacks is that "we don't want Syrian refugees." They're terrorists. They're a threat. We can't be sure they're safe. It's really just groups of military age men who will use their status to attack us. This morning, the governors of several states have even declared they will not accept refugees to their states. But according to the United Nations, women outnumber men and children under the age of 11 make up nearly 40 percent of the total. There are 4 million refugees with 2.1 million of those having available data...51.1% are under the age of 17. And 50.5% are women.

Let's not forget that 220,000 people have died in the Syrian Civil War so far. That includes hundreds of children tortured in Syrian prisons. Almost 10,000 children have been killed in the war. Not to mention all this in the context of the Iraq War (a war the US started) which has killed over 600,000 people to date...the figure could be closer to a million, depending on the source and methods used to calculate.

Yes, over 100 people died in a prominent Western city in a brutal, horrific terrorist attack. Yes, we must be vigilant about our own safety and find a way to destroy the violent radicals. But tell me again about the horrors America has suffered compared to...who? Our European friends who have lived their own version of this in the last century are doing the right, moral, just thing and taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees. Do they want to? No. But someone has to and the United States is failing in our duty to stand up for human rights and give humanity a place of calm in the storm. We're turning away people seeking opportunity, freedom, peace. They must have somewhere to turn and that has--historically--been us. Not only is a return to isolationism by the US not possible but it would be...evil. Part of our national identity is as a beacon of hope in a world where we live out our shared values of justice, equality, compassion for others.

We must take Syrian refugees not because we have to but because we should want to and it's the right thing to do. Certain Americans want to use the recent attacks as a reason to turn inward, question our diplomacy, and call for a more hawkish stance. Let's not return to the days just after 9/11 when Islamophobia ran wild, we focused on military revenge more than homeland security, and we spent lives and treasure fighting an unwinnable war we are still dealing with today.

Americans, we must find common humanity with others and project an attitude of peace and stability. We must not give in to the terrorists by resorting to the mistakes of the past.

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